How high can blood alcohol levels get?


No anecdotal stories allowed.
Here’s proof of the highest alcohol level I’ve seen — 852. And this patient was up at the nurse’s station pounding his fist on the counter because we couldn’t get him a meal tray fast enough.
Has anyone seen an alcohol level higher than this?
So much for coroners who testify that alcohol levels over 400 are “lethal.”



  1. The nurses at Denver General told me during clinicals about a few really bad drunks that would seize if their etoh dropped below 600. One said that she had seen a guy still standing that had a level over 1,000.
    In any case, I was taught that etoh poisoning was a clinical diagnosis, not based upon lab results. But I am just a dumb retired Paramedic.
    Have a nice day! 🙂

  2. my advice to this patient. NEVER STOP DRINKING! if he does he will rapidly go in to withdrawal and seizures and will likely die from it. hand him a gallon of vodka out the door.

  3. I’ve never seen above .40 in my life, and I’ve busted a lot of drunks. I’ve never even met a cop who’s gotten a verifiable .4 or better.

  4. My brother is in ICU tonite with a BAL of 430..My mom called me over to say something was wrong. I am a CCU RN…and he was in resp failure breathing 4 times per min, unable to swallow his own secretions, unable to speak, follow directions, make sense or have any comprehensible speech, and could not move his arms or legs. His left pupil was completely dilated and the right was at about a 4. Had he been home alone he would have died. He had been on a 5 day binge, and has been drinking pretty heavy the last two years. In all my years as a nurse, I have never ever seen anything like this nor have I seen anyone with a level this high. I cannot even fathom a level of 700-1000????? CRAZY!

  5. I work in the E.D. of a hospital in Denver, and I used to be a counselor in detox. I personally have seen many many episodes of patients in the .500 range, but in old medical records from one of our “frequent flyers” the highest I have personally seen is a .826! THe huy died a few weeks after this episode when he was hit by a train while intoxicated. Not a very glamorous death for sure…

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